Arts Desk

Here They Come, A-Dramatizing: Five Shows To Check Out For the Holiday Season

If you see any sort of performance between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, it will probably have a holiday bent to it. But while in years past, your options were limited to multiple reimaginings of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, this year’s offerings are more unique, ranging from a modern take on the nativity story to a Jewish musical revue to a staged version of a classic NPR essay. Better yet, you can bring the whole family to most of these shows, granting you a peaceful moment of entertainment outside the house. Read more Here They Come, A-Dramatizing: Five Shows To Check Out For the Holiday Season

The Final Word: Nearly 15 Years Later, the Themes of Frodus’ Final Album Are More Relevant Than Ever


Like the best of them, Frodus was a band ahead of its time. In the ’90s, the Fairfax post-hardcare trio wasn’t just the driving force of Northern Virginia’s punk scene—it was the most raucous, the most unpredictable, and the most contrived band in the D.C. area. As its final album, And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea, showed, it was also perhaps the most prophetic. The album was doomed from the get-go.

Its sound—a self-described “spazzcore” blend of heavy, angular riffs and carefully syncopated drum rhythms paired with guitarist/vocalist Shelby Cinca’s unbridled screaming—helped spawn the post-hardcore scene that would have its moment in the early ’00s with bands like Thrice and At The Drive-In. It’s not hard to imagine the level of success the band might have achieved had it not thrown in the towel in 1999, just after its members finished recording Weapons. The album was eventually released on CD in 2001 by Fueled By Ramen Records (before it became a subsidiary of Warner Music Group and spawned platinum-selling artists like Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and Panic! at the Disco) and had a very limited vinyl run through a small label in the Czech Republic.

Since then, the members of Frodus have moved on, both musically (all three members have since played in a handful of other bands) and geographically (Cinca now lives in Sweden), but their legacy is nonetheless intact thanks to local label Lovitt Records, who last week reissued a remastered version And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea on vinyl, complete with expanded packaging that documents the last year of the band’s life. Read more The Final Word: Nearly 15 Years Later, the Themes of Frodus’ Final Album Are More Relevant Than Ever

To Do Today: The English Beat, Sinkane, and Team Familiar

When I was 14 and getting garbage grades, my school-appointed “mentor” gave me an English Beat CD. That’s an unusual choice for get-your-life-on-track tunes. Still, this middle-aged guy knew what he was doing. That’s because, at the risk of angering New Jersey, British ska is always better than the stateside equivalent. Coming out of a 1970s scene obsessed with horns and Jamaica, The English Beat’s “2 Tone” revival scene was all about racial harmony and disliking Margaret Thatcher. Read more >>> The English Beat performs at 7 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $25. (202) 265-0930. (Will Sommer)


Black's Bar & Kitchen is hosting an all-day "throwback" happy hour today with menu items dating back to the day it opened. Look out for 50 cent wings, $5 shrimp quesadillas, and two-for-one oyster and raw bar offerings. Glasses of wine go for $5, draft beers are $4, and vodka martinis are $6. Black's Bar & Kitchen, 7750 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda. (301) 652-5525. Sidman)


Head south to Theater on the Run, where WSC Avant Bard begins performances of Holiday Memories, a seasonal drama based on a short story by Truman Capote. 7:30 p.m. at 3700 South Four Mile Drive, Arlington. Pay what you can. Read more To Do Today: The English Beat, Sinkane, and Team Familiar

At Museum of the American Indian, An Exploration of Kay WalkingStick’s Art

"Venere Alpina" by Kay WalkingStick; 1997.

"Venere Alpina" by Kay WalkingStick; 1997.

It makes perfect sense that Kay WalkingStick knew all about Sam Gilliam. Her 1974 painting “A Sensual Suggestion” depicts a paint-splattered apron suspended from a triangular form like a coat hanger. The apron is painted against a neutral yellow color field, a reference perhaps to the way Gilliam lifted raw stained canvas off its wooden supports and into space. WalkingStick, who was then studying at the Pratt Institute, admired Gilliam as well as Helen Frankenthaler, the unofficial dean of the Washington Color School.

WalkingStick and Gilliam have a number of things in common: Both artists were born in the 1930s, yet both painters are working at the height of their careers right now. Something about their identities as artists binds them, too. Gilliam is a D.C.-based artist who has never made his status as an African-American artist the subject of his formalist abstractions, a decision that has sometimes earned him judgment in both the art world and the black community. WalkingStick, who is Cherokee, grew up in Syracuse; in her art she navigates what it means to be biracial but not bicultural.

Teasing out the difference is no mean feat. But “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist,” now on view at the National Museum of the American Indian, manages to fully explore the artist’s identity as a painter while focusing fully on her art. Never didactic, the exhibition—a survey of more than 75 paintings and other artworks—is a testament to how sensitive scholarship can illuminate, contextualize, and advance the interests of a contemporary artist who does not necessarily share the same background as her peers. Read more At Museum of the American Indian, An Exploration of Kay WalkingStick’s Art

D.C. Welcomes Another New Bookstore, This Time in Park View

3325 georgiaJust over a year ago, D.C. welcomed its first new independent bookstore in more than a decade, when Paul Ruppert opened Upshur Street Books in Petworth. Now, less than a mile from Ruppert's shop, another new bookselling operation is set to open. Walls of Books, a franchise of the Georgia-based Gottwals Books operated in D.C. by Brightwood resident Pablo Sierra, will soft-open on Dec. 12.

Unlike Ruppert's 800-square-foot store, Walls of Books is three times the size and sells used books. Unlike some of the city's other used bookstores, this one won't highlight its stacks of leather-bound editions and out-of-print finds. "We won't specialize in the rare, first edition Moby Dicks," Sierra says. Instead, the shop, which will carry 30,000 volumes in English and Spanish when it opens, will sell general interest fiction and nonfiction titles, ranging in price from $3 to $15. You probably won't find a coveted copy of Dream City on the shelves right away but customers can put in requests for specific titles online. A selection of Melissa & Doug toys will also be sold. Read more D.C. Welcomes Another New Bookstore, This Time in Park View

Arts Roundup: Cat Music Edition

National Gallery of Art's newest exhibition is both hit and miss. [Arts Desk]

Today in "Yes, really": Local cellist raises more than $200,000 to make music for cats. [DCist] Read more Arts Roundup: Cat Music Edition

At the National Gallery of Art, Simple and Not-So-Simple Gifts

NGA gift rocks“Recent Gifts” exhibits are inevitably mishmashes and “Celebrating Photography at the National Gallery of Art: Recent Gifts” is no exception.

Coming on the heels of two significant photography exhibits at the NGA this year—“The Memory of Time” and “In Light of the Past”—the newest offering ranges widely, from an 1843 image of a Gothic façade by photographic pioneer NGA gift facadeWilliam Henry Fox Talbot to experiments with found imagery from Google Street View.

The exhibit offers some pleasant surprises. The virtually unknown 1850s photographer Joseph Vigier contributes a black-and-white landscape in the Pyrenees (top) that looks unexpectedly modern. An image by Adam Fuss uses the camera-less photogram technique to create a notably ghostly image of a lacy gown. And Deborah Luster’s series of tintype portraits of inmates in Louisiana (an example is at bottom) receives deservedly extensive space.

Other decisions, though, seem more arbitrary, such as the close pairing in one room of photographs by Robert Frank (including the second from the bottom) and Richard Avedon. And one of the exhibit’s biggest focuses—modern landscapes—includes an uneven mix of works.

NGA gift FrankSome of these landscape projects are underwhelming, including Henry Wessel’s bland images of houses in Richmond, Calif.; Matthew Jensen’s Google Street View photographs looking directly into the sun; and a matrix of surprisingly nondescript detritus from the American West by Lewis Baltz. Read more At the National Gallery of Art, Simple and Not-So-Simple Gifts

To Do Today: Tango Glories, The Heavy Pets, and Ray, Goodman, and Brown

cl-tuesday-47The languages and ways in which we communicate help form our identities and impact our connection with others. Argentine director Oliver Kolker examines this idea in his latest film, Tango Glories, which focuses on the relationship between Fermín, an 85-year-old psychiatric patient at a Buenos Aires hospital who only speaks in lyrics from tango songs, and Ezequiel, the doctor who takes an interest in his case (and his granddaughter). Though they initially have difficulty understanding each other, the pair is drawn together through the language of tango. Read more >>> The film shows at 7:30 p.m. at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St. NW. $13. (202) 518-9400. (Caroline Jones)


Thanksgiving is not just about eating way too much. It’s about drinking too much, too! In the lead up to Turkey Day, Jack Rose Dining Saloon is offering a liquid meal of five Thanksgiving-inspired cocktails. The concoctions include What Ya Say Bud with rum, baked bean syrup, lime, and bitters as well as Glazed Over with ham and turkey-infused Wild Turkey 101 Rye, honey, and bitters. Other drinks use pecan pie bitters and butter-washed vodka. All cocktails are $10 each or $45 for a tasting flight with all five. They’re available today and tomorrow. Jack Rose Dining Saloon, 2007 18th St. NW. (202) 588-7388. (Jessica Sidman)


Old-school R&B group Ray, Goodman, and Brown (formerly known as The Moments) celebrates more than 45 years in the music business with a performance at the Howard Theatre. 8 p.m. at 620 T St. NW. $30–$45. Read more To Do Today: Tango Glories, The Heavy Pets, and Ray, Goodman, and Brown

Arts Roundup: Weed Scene Edition

Local production company Aboveboard Productions is shooting a comedic web series about D.C.'s marijuana industry. [DCist]

Your D.C. Flag tattoo is no longer cool thanks to Kojo Nnamdi, Mary Cheh, and Tom Sherwood. [Post]

Check out a new track from Virginia rapper Peter $un. [Arts Desk] Read more Arts Roundup: Weed Scene Edition

One Track Mind: Peter $un, ‘When U Need Me’


Standout Track: Using a blissful beat to attract ears, Peter $un’s single “When U Need Me” is a psychedelic song with a dark undertone. Originally produced as an instrumental by 19-year-old London native, Mura Masa, “When U Need Me” was a song that inspired $un to rap about his reality. “When you actually listen to the lyrics, there’s a lot of things that has to do with drug abuse [and] depression” $un says. “It was a track [that] just like opening up about my mind state and how I feel.” With this in mind, the single paints a clear picture of the inner struggles of $un, but is supported by a sound that brings listeners back for another play. Read more One Track Mind: Peter $un, ‘When U Need Me’